Update on FARC-EP Peace Talks

26 Feb

From TML dailY

Progress in Colombian Peace Talks
The latest session of ongoing peace talks in Havana, Cuba between representatives of the Colombian government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia — People’s Army (FARC-EP) was completed on February 10, ending the first three months of peace talks.

Representatives of both parties highlighted the advances made in these first three months of talks at a press conference, and each side expressed satisfaction with the progress of the negotiations. The head of the government delegation, Humberto de la Calle, said there is a reconciliation of views on the formalization of land ownership and that this will continue during the resumed session on February 18. For his part, the leader of the delegation of the FARC-EP, Luciano Marin Arango, confirmed some advances have been made.

The development of a comprehensive land policy for the ownership of land is the first of five points of discussion at the negotiating table. Its regulation, in the eyes of the FARC-EP, is a focal point for the establishment of peace in Colombia. Other points are: an end to the armed conflict, the treatment of victims and the verification process, reintegration and the trafficking of narcotics.

Official data from the Colombian government show 77 per cent of the land is controlled by 13 per cent of land owners, 3.6 per cent of whom hold 30 per cent of the total land area.

Another breakthrough achieved with the last round of talks is the release of three hostages by the FARC-EP, demonstrating their willingness to contribute to a cease-fire and to smooth bilateral peace talks. On February 12, former Colombian Senator Piedad Córdoba, now spokesman for the group Colombians for Peace, said during an interview on Telesur: “With great joy, I inform you that the coordinates [where the hostages will be released] have come through. I have sent them to the Deputy Minister of Defence. We are ready to begin releases.” It is expected that two policemen and a soldier will be free within 72 hours after transmission of the coordinates.

Although both parties are satisfied with the progress of the talks, thorny issues, such as that of victims of the conflict remain. On the one hand, the government party continues to treat the issue of the victims from the perspective that they are the consequences of terrorist acts committed by the FARC-EP. De la Calle said “there will be no peace agreement without the guerrilla facing its victims. In time, we will implement the systems and mechanisms to make that happen.” Meanwhile Márquez, representing FARC-EP, responded that “they are thousands, the victims of the conflict, and if the government takes the issue of victims very seriously, it should render accounts to society for the historical rosary of crimes of state terrorism. There is no doubt that the state is fundamentally responsible for these crimes.”

Talks will resume on February 18 with the continuation of negotiations on agricultural policy. Many politicians in Colombia, including the Polo Democrático Alternativo, strongly criticize the Santos government using the talks to be re-elected in the general elections of 2014.


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